March 17, 2015

steve laidlaw

2015-03-17

Carlson vs. Green, Parenteau back in the lineup, a deep look at the Oilers’ power play and more…

 

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Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

 

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James Mirtle looks at the inevitability of expansion into Las Vegas. I think it's exciting. I do have my concerns about diluting a product that one could argue is already fairly dilute but it's tough to argue with the growth of the sport, particularly in the US. I'm talking in terms of participation across the country, not necessarily about people actually attending games/watching on TV.

 

The number of people playing the game is important to preventing the game from becoming too diluted. And if there is already a boom of American talent helping to make the on-ice product stronger then growing that boom even further is necessary to sate the increased demand for talent.

 

What will be interesting is the effect that it will have on fantasy leagues. Like virtually all expansion franchises the new Vegas team will likely be a heel for a few years, which will goose scoring for players on much stronger teams. We could see a small boost in scoring across the league and that may be palpable in fantasy leagues.

 

Also interesting is if/when the Vegas team gets good. Because now you've added six extra top-six forward spots, a couple of top pairing defensemen and either a solid starter or another goalie tandem of some sort. Those positions won't be all that valuable off the start but once the team gets reasonably good then at the very least there will be more options in the middle class for fantasy pools.

 

That may not be a good thing. Adding more 50-60-point forwards and 30-40-point defensemen would just further dilute the fantasy talent pool, which affects the value of those 50-60-point forward already in existence. Why pay a premium for those guys if they become more ubiquitous than ever?

 

We are already seeing a huge shift in the power dynamics for fantasy defensemen. Productive (35 points or more) defensemen are more available than they have been since the brief scoring boost of 2005-06. Adding one or two more certainly complicates things. And you know that those positions will be filled. More than ever we are seeing capable puck-moving defensemen enter the league. It's almost a pre-requisite.

 

That doesn't mean that those puck-movers will be inherently "good". Just that they will be capable. And capable with the right set of skills and 24 minutes a night can get you to 35 points pretty easily in today's NHL.

 

This situation with a growing number of productive defensemen (and decreasing number of super-elite forwards) may just be one-season phenomenon but it doesn't feel like it. It's also something that's not technically related to expansion. It can be talked about outside of the expansion conversation and I've